Pascucci has 5 home runs so far with the Zephyrs
Val Pascucci recently joined the New Orleans Zephyrs after a brief stay in the International League where did he get off the start he hoped for. Since joining the Zephyrs, he has been on a tear and knocking in runs at a high rate. Inside Pitch caught up with Pascucci to learn more about his dramatic turn around.
[Photo by Gillian Rich]
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The difference between Val Pascucci's April stint in Lehigh Valley and his current stint in New Orleans hasn't just been night and day. It's been like two different seasons.
Before being cut by the Philadelphia Phillies organization on April 29, his average with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs was down to .232. He only had one home run in 82 at bats and his slugging percentage was at .293 -- a far cry from his .490 minor league career norm.
Since joining the Zephyrs on April 30, Pascucci has been ridiculously productive at the plate. He's hit safely in 11 of his first 13 games with the club and slugged over .750 with five home runs -- a mark that's already fifth on the team, despite having just over a third of at bats as his teammates.
"I had a rough streak with [the IronPigs]," Pascucci said. "It was one of those things where I was hitting balls hard over there and guys were catching them. It was tough playing everyday in 40 degrees or colder in the high rise. But it was tough on the whole team. It was one of those things -- hitting is contagious, and nobody was hitting."
Pascucci has always been a towering presence at the plate. The 29-year-old right fielder is listed at 6-foot-3 but said it's mores like 6-foot-6, with about 245 pounds to go along with it. That bulk has given him 159 minor league home runs.
That's why his early season performance -- and release -- was such a shock. Last year in the Marlins organization he led the PCL in home runs with 34 and got on pace at a .389 clip. He was the "Star of the Stars" at the PCL All-Star game.
"You're going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Sometimes they'll last longer, sometimes they don't," he said.
What kept that cold streak from turning into a hot streak earlier, Pascucci said, was that he hadn't yet adjusted to his first stint in the International League. The cold weather that typifies the league along with the new parks and pitchers stacked against him.
For Pascucci, it was assumed that he'd bounce back, but the Phillies weren't willing to play the waiting the game and now they're paying for it.
"We were struggling at Lehigh Valley," Pascucci said. "It was one of those things, I think, that they just wanted to mix up the team and try to get some other things going around, get some movement.”
"They did that. I've checked on it a couple times, and it doesn't look like it helped too much."
His return to the PCL was a warm and welcoming one. It's a league that he's collected 74 home runs in over three years, including the aforementioned league-leading 34 in 2007.
"It's kind of like coming home again," Pascucci said. "It's just comfortable. We're going to our next trip to Nashville and Oklahoma. We're going there, and I played in both stadiums a bunch of times. I kind of know how the fields are and what to expect when I get there. Whereas in other places, I have to go and kind of learn the fields real quick once you get there. It's nice to go to a place you've been before and know what to expect."
He also knew Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who was the general manager of the Montreal Expos when Pascucci was with the club. Add in Adam Logan, the Mets minor league director who was also with the Expos at the time, and it seemed like a snug fit.
"Both of those guys knew me, and knew my past and record and figured I could come over here and help. So, they stressed that, and I thought I could come over and help them out, whether it be here or if they need me in the big leagues, I'll be ready to go."
He's been called up to deliver in the majors before. In 2004, as a spry 25 year old, He played 32 games in limited duty, but struggled with a .222/.332/.468 line.
"It's a tough situation to go in. When you go there, you like to go out and get a chance to play every day and show some people what you can do," he said.
But don't consider him intimidated. He's ready for the call-up and ready to contribute in whatever capacity the Mets need him.
"You've got to accept the role you're given. If I'm given the same opportunity to go to the big leagues, I'm sure I"ll have the same role: the power guy off the bench if they need it, and whatever it takes to help the team."